Latics never win two on the bounce, City always win when they’ve lost. Latics are likely to be without this season’s talisman N’Zogbia, City are likely to have Adebayor available. Throw in Tevez, Bellamy, Barry, Johnson and the rest and you have a game that Latics aren’t likely to win. But hey it’s only 90-odd minutes of football, an hour and a half of kicking a ball about and as much as the scales are weighted heavily Ancoats way, Latics have already proved they can be dangerous when things are that way around.
But of course, the Chelsea and Liverpool wins were at home and, even more of course, Latics are terrible away from home. Well they are if you put as much stead in their goal difference as the press seem keen to. Three wins and two draws are far from the best away stint that Latics have put in , but there’s a chance that, come the end of the season, they’ll have improved to be far from the worse.
Swings and roundabouts come to mind, but there are teams above us with worse records. Massage the results at Old Trafford, The Emirates and White Hart Lane (it would be wrong to ask for a favour over the Pompey score) and, in the context of this season, it’s not that bad at all. Then again it will take a long time to live those results down and wrong to suggest that any one of us is 100% certain that we won’t hit another low like that.
Anyway, there’s little point mulling over the past too much, unless of course you’re talking about the hoodoo that Latics have over City. Ever since Shaun Goater robbed us of a play off place the hands of fate have been kind to Latics as far as City are concerned. They’ve only beaten us once in nine league meetings and have lost five of them. With a League Cup “giant killing” as icing on the cake then, who’s going to be betting on City?
Well, all clichés aside, most people will. They’re fighting to get fourth place, we’re fighting to get fourth bottom. Both sides are under different kinds of pressure, but bizarrely, it’s more of a must win for City than it is for Latics. If either of the sides can afford to relax then it’s Latics, if either of the managers can afford to send his side out to enjoy themselves then it’s Bobby.
And that’s when Latics are at their best, when they can kick back, stick to their game-plan and just believe. Not that I’m naïve enough to believe that’s the be all and end all because first blood is going to be so important. If City draw it then we’ll be in for a long hard 90 minutes and maybe a bit more accounting, if Latics get it then maybe I’ll be able to start Tuesday with the same smugness that traditionally follows a game against the Sky Blues.
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